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Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor, by George Cooper Connor, [1894], at

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Grand Commanderies often desire to hold imposing Memorial Services in honor of their distinguished dead. Subordinate Commanderies have the sane privilege. When the Ceremonials are pathetic and tender, the results are most beneficial.

The ceremonies are public, and may be held in the Asylum, or in a public hall.

Click to enlarge


This diagram represents an elevated stage. 1, Commander; 2, Generalissimo; 3, Captain General; 4, Prelate; 5, Commander of the deceased Knight's commandery.

The three triangular tables should be 30 inches high, and have sides 15 inches long. They should each have a valance reaching to the floor. On each table should be three tall tapers, all burning.

The Catafalque is properly shaped thus (end view):

Catafalque end view

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It should be 32 inches long at the base, and the top part 24 inches long. This gives a terrace 6 inches wide all around, on which should be 12 lighted tapers, four on the front, and four on each side. On the top of the Catafalque a white urn may be placed, and all properly draped, and decked with white flowers.

A large bell, best made out of a bar of steel, is suspended near the chair of the commander, who will toll the same at the proper time.

A floral crown, and a floral cross should be prepared, and placed convenient to the proper officers. A floral wreath should be wound around a sword, and placed near the chair of the Captain General.

The Officers should be in full Templar costume, and the Prelate in regulation robes. If possible, all the knights should be in full Templar costume.

The music should be effectively rendered, and should be solemn and pathetic.

The ceremonials should be conducted in a slow and measured manner, solemnity and tenderness being the chief characteristics.

The officers enter in procession, and when they have taken their stations the ceremonies will begin.


Choir sings "Rock of Ages," or other appropriate music:

Commander.—Sir Knights, a Pilgrim Warrior, a soldier of the Cross, a Companion beloved, has been summoned hence. He has obeyed the summons and laid aside his armor. There is a vacancy in the Grand Commandery of —;a vacant chair in our council chamber. A taper has been extinguished here, to be relighted up yonder.

When the Commander says, "extinguished here," he will pause, and extinguish the taper at the apex of his triangular table. When he says, "to be relighted up yonder," he will relight the taper.

Beloved, we have gathered together to honor the memory of a Companion in arms, Sir Knight —; to tender condolence to the bereaved, and to crave permission to mingle our tears with theirs. The occasion is stricken with sorrow,

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but its poignancy is mollified by the preciousness of the hope of that other life, where tears and sorrows are unknown. In the midst of life we are in death; but unto whom shall we go for succor but unto Him who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. Excellent Prelate, read unto us from the Father's will.


Prelate reads Job xiv: 1, 2, 5-14; 1 Corinthians xv: 12-23.

P.—Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he can not pass, turn from him that he may rest till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again, and that the tender branches thereof will not cease. Though the root wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet through the scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant.

But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep.

If a man die shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is your preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. * * * For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ is not

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raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. * * * If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his order; Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Brethren, let us pray.


Almighty and most Merciful Father, who has commended us to love one another as thy children, send down upon us at this time the dew of thy heavenly grace; pardon all our transgressions; renew within us right spirits, and refresh us with the sweetness of thy love; give unto us faith and hope so that this, our sorrow, may conduce to our eternal happiness. Look with compassion upon these bereaved ones, and pour into their bleeding hearts the consolations of thy grace; and may they have part and lot with all thy saints, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Command thy blessing, O God, to abide with all who are sick or afflicted; with the widow and the orphan; with the dying and the convalescent; with the poor and the distressed. Bestow upon all the spirit of thy grace, and help us to bear each other's burdens, so that having lived together in love here, we may, through the merits of our once crucified, but now risen and exalted Redeemer, ascend unto that peace that remaineth to the people of God, and forever unite in singing the praises of redeeming love. And to thy great and matchless name shall be all the praise and glory, through Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. Amen.

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The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with us all evermore. Amen.



Tune, Zephyr.

1. Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep!
From which none ever wake to weep;
A calm and undisturbed repose.
Unbroken by the last of foes.

2. Asleep in Jesus! O how sweet
To be for such a slumber meet;
With holy confidence to sing
That death bath lost its venomed sting.

3. Asleep in Jesus! O for me
May such a blissful refuge be;
Securely shall my ashes lie,
And wait the summons from on high.

4. Asleep in Jesus! far from thee
Thy kindred and their graves may be;
But there is still a blessed sleep
From which none ever wake to weep.

While the last verse is being sung the Commander will toll the Bell, and the hall lights will be slowly lowered, until a dim light pervades.


The Captain General will arise with the wreathed sword in hand.

CG.—In the hands of our deceased Companion this sword was endowed with three inestimable qualities—Justice, Fortitude and Mercy. Whenever he grasped this glittering sword, his hand first laid hold upon the cross, (holding cross of sword upwards), and before he drew it from its scabbard he was well assured of the Justice of his cause.

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I lay his Sword, wreathed with emblems of our affection, on this Triangle dedicated to Justice.

The Captain General remains standing, and after a pause the Generalissimo rises.

G. (With floral Cross in hand)—Our Companion delighted to wear upon his breast this emblem of the Christian Faith. He could exclaim with the apostle, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ." May this (raising the Cross) be the token to admit him where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

To the memory of his Christian fidelity, courage and constancy, I lay this emblem on the Triangle dedicated to Fortitude.

The Generalissimo remains standing. A pause, then the Commander rises.

C. (With floral Crown in hand)—" Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." Because our Companion was faithful do we hope that a crown awaited him in that "house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." This emblem of that hope, (raising floral Crown) I now deposit on the Triangle dedicated to Mercy.

Excellent Prelate, lead our Devotions.

P.—Beloved, let us kneel in prayer.

The Choir will sing in soft, low voices:

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
    O Lamb of God I come.

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2. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God I come.

3. Just as I am, thy love unknown,
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be thine, yea, thine alone,
O Lamb of God I come.

The Prelate will then offer the following, all still kneeling:


Heavenly Father, in whose holy sight centuries are but as days, look down upon these bowed, weary pilgrims who are traveling through this vale of tears, and soften their afflictions with the consolations of thy Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Accept the homage we bring, and permit us to come unto thee, O Lamb of God, our Redeemer, so that there may be revived in each heart the hope of eternal felicity, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Amen.

As the word Amen is pronounced the lights of the hall will be flashed up, and all will be seated.


The Choir will then chant the following selection of Scripture:

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened.

And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;

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Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets;

Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit return unto God who gave it.


C.—Sir Knights, each bereavement severs a sordid cord that binds us to this lower life, and stretches a golden one from earth to heaven. These severings command a halt, send us into the solitude of reflection, and enquire if we are able to answer the necessary questions, and wash our hands in innocency, in token of our sincerity.

Brethren, the memory of him who falls in a just cause is forever blessed. That just cause to us means defense of holy religion, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and binding up the wounds of the afflicted. It was in such a cause our Brother was engaged when he fell, and his memory shall forever flourish in immortal green. Though he now sleeps the long, undisturbed repose of death, his virtues are fresh, and live in our hearts. In the darkness of the tomb his ashes but await the summons of the resurrection, and his glorified spirit, we trust, is now engaged in hymning the praises of redeeming love.

Let us, therefore, having hope in God, lay aside the drapery of our mourning, and ascending out of the darkness of our grief into the light of the promises of our Great Captain, perform this last duty to the memory of our friend.

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Companion Commander of — Commandery, on whose rolls the name of our Frater was inscribed, receive the instructions of this Grand Commandery.

The Commander arises, and meets the Grand Commander in middle of stage.

Here on this scroll is inscribed the name, age and advancements of our beloved Frater, now deceased. Bear it to your Asylum, and there deposit it in the archives, in constant and perpetual memorial.

C.—Right Eminent Sir, I accept this memorial scroll in the name of — Commandery. It shall be sacredly deposited in the archives.

Both remain, facing the audience, when the Prelate will say:

P.—"I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write: from henceforth blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the spirit, for they rest from their labors."

The Commanders go to their stations, and all are seated except Grand Commander.

C.—Sir Knights, these ceremonies have refreshed us, comforted our hearts, and strengthened our faith. Let us all henceforth so let our light shine that the world seeing, our good works may glorify our Father who art in heaven. May we so live that when we die our friends will deem it a pleasant duty to bestrew our graves with flowers, and thereby cherish the memory of our virtues.


The Eulogium will then be pronounced by the orator selected

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After the Eulogium the Choir will sing, and the congregation will arise and join.


1. Forever with the Lord!
Amen! so let it be;
Life from the dead is in that word,
’Tis immortality.

2. Here in the body pent,
Absent from thee I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day's march nearer home.

3. Forever with the Lord!
Father, if ’tis thy will,
The promise of that faithful word
E’en here to me fulfill.

The Excellent Prelate will then pronounce the


The grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

Next: The Christmas Observance